The Purpose of this Project
The Climate Smart Southwest (CSSW) Project was initiated in the Fall of 2012 by PSR Arizona and a planning committee was organized to gather members of the SW community and local and national environmental leaders to address the public health vulnerabilities to climate change in our region and for our SW communities. The project was initiated with the formation of working groups, reflecting these vulnerabilities within 6 topic areas. These groups met for 6 months prior to a major CSSW Conference that was offered on September 20-21 of 2013 and attended by over 400 members of our southwest communities and representatives of 45 co-sponsors which included 6 national environmental organizations. The speakers included climate scientists, public health faculty and officials, National and International environmental leaders, and representatives of Native American and our Mexican border communities. The conference is followed by the on-going work of our Working Groups.
This project is led by the Arizona Chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility with the support of a coalition of co-sponsoring community and national organizations as well as local leaders. The purpose is to build new and fortify existing cross-cultural, community, and governmental partnerships to educate and engage community action to address the anticipated public health impacts of climate change in the Southwest.
Why It’s Very Important
Extreme weather events in the Southwestern U.S. and adjacent Borderlands are on the rise and with them, higher incidences of health-related impacts such as heat stress, newly emerging infectious diseases, asthma and other respiratory illnesses. Moreover, as the “hottest, driest part of the United States,” our region is already experiencing longer and more intense heat waves and (the threat of wide scale power blackouts), a “dramatic spike” in forest fires, severe dust storms, and changes in the amount and timing of rainfall and seasonal snowmelt that threatens water resources and food security. While these events are alarming, communities in the Southwest are preparing for these risks and other impacts outlined in the new National Climate Assessment through planning and prevention strategies aimed at reducing our vulnerability to extreme weather and local climate impacts.
Who Should Participate
- Community and neighborhood leaders, formal and informal educators, citizen activists, government and non-profit agency personnel, and members;
- Climate scientists, and health professionals in the Southwestern U.S. Northern Mexico, and First Nations who have an interest in community based action for preparedness to develop more resilient neighborhoods, towns, cities, borders regions, and tribal lands;
- National and local leaders and members of PSR, environmental groups, and policy making agency representatives.